AFL world left raging as umpires come under fire in 'disgraceful' farce

The GWS Giants and Adelaide Crows were both hit with highly controversial umpiring calls.

Stephen Coniglio, pictured here being pinged for dissent in GWS' clash with Carlton in the AFL.
Stephen Coniglio was pinged for dissent in GWS' clash with Carlton in the AFL. Image: Fox Footy

AFL umpires are at the centre of controversy after two highly contentious calls on Saturday night that went against GWS and Adelaide. The first occurred in the Giants' 10-point loss to Carlton after Stephen Coniglio was pinged for dissent at a crucial stage in the match.

With GWS leading by five points in the final quarter, Carlton kicked a behind. However the Blues were awarded a free kick straight in front of the goals after the umpire pinged Coniglio for dissent.

'NOT GOOD': Richmond under fire over 'terrible' detail in loss

'NOT GOING TO HAPPEN': Kane Cornes makes call on Daisy Pearce

Just after the ball crossed the line, Coniglio threw his arms up towards the umpire to seemingly question a no-call for holding the ball. The umpire deemed that enough to warrant a free kick for dissent, handing the Blues an easy shot from straight in front.

“It’s not holding the (ball)," umpire Craig Fleer could be heard saying as Carlton forward Corey Durdin kicked the initial behind. After seeing Coniglio throw his arms up, the umpire then said: "Dissent. All clear (behind) and dissent, so it’s going to be a Carlton free kick here."

After Jesse Motlop kicked the subsequent goal to put the Blues in front, umpire Fleer could be heard explaining his decision to Lachie Whitfield. “It’s not what he said – it wasn’t you (Whitfield), it was Steve Coniglio.

“There was a decision not paid, so the ball had gone through (for a behind) and he (Coniglio) has gone ‘how is that not a free kick?’, with his arm out". Whitfield replied: “And that’s worth another goal?” Fleer responded: “That’s dissent."

Stephen Coniglio, pictured here in action for GWS against Carlton.
Stephen Coniglio in action for GWS against Carlton. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Giants failed to kick another goal in the game as the Blues ran out 9.20 (74) to 9.10 (64) winners. Speaking after the game, Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall said: “That’s big. I would’ve thought if there was some serious abuse yes, but just for throwing the arms out and saying ‘how is that not a free kick?’ That to me is a very heavy penalty to pay.

“He didn’t even throw them right out … He put them out in front of him. It’s tough. I understand where we’re trying to get to with respect to umpires and I completely agree with it … but common sense.

“When you’re trying to change behaviour or a particular action, you’ve got shoot a few to get it done – and someone’s got to pay the penalty before it sinks in and there is no dissent. What it does do is put the players on notice.”

Garry Lyon added: “That is extraordinary … That is taking it way too far. That’s not worth a goal.”

On Twitter, former Sydney Swans player Ryan Fitzgerald wrote: "That dissent decision against GWS straight out of front of goal for Carlton is an absolute disgrace. Final quarter, players rinsed and you make a decision like that that can have a major impact on the game. Just ruining games." And he wasn't alone, with the call widely condemned by fans and pundits.

Adelaide Crows also dudded by controversial umpiring call

There was also outrage early in Showdown 53 between Adelaide and Port Adelaide when Lachie Sholl was deemed to be holding the ball after a tackle from Sam Powell-Pepper. Sholl took an intercept mark in his defensive 50 before he appeared to play on and was immediately tackled by Powell-Pepper.

The umpire called Sholl for holding the ball, but many believed Powell-Pepper was in the five-metre protected zone for a player who has taken a mark. Crows fan Fitzgerald was once again left raging at the call, although it wouldn't end up costing Adelaide as they scored a 18.9 (117) to 13.8 (86) victory.

Gerard Healy said on Fox Footy: “Well done to Powell-Pepper but it did seem a bit unjust to me. You’re supposed to have a five metre protection zone around you. You can argue he should have known he was right behind him, but this is red hot.”

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.